Williams Martini Racing’s Rob Smedley has described the tactics his team employed during the 2018 French Grand Prix, admitting that on pace alone, Williams are struggling.
Neither Lance Stroll nor Sergey Sirotkin escaped Q1 during qualifying in France. Smedley, Williams’ Head of performance, says the team moved to focus on tyre strategy in the hope of gaining an undercut on those around them and then protecting their position through clever defensive play.
Unfortunately for Williams, the plan failed, with Sirotkin finishing last of those running at the finish, while team-mate Stoll retired with a dramatic puncture.
“With the car pace, on both low and high fuel, it was always going to be extremely difficult, so we looked at what tactics could play out for us,” said Smedley. “We were reasonably confident that we would get a prime tyre to do the full race distance which on Sergey’s car, it did, so when we discussed it this morning, we thought we would stop on a first lap safety car.
“We did that in the hope that faster cars would pit and come out behind us and then it was a case of seeing if we could hold them up or not. We purposely put Sergey in a DRS train behind Lance in order that we could try and protect from Ericsson and Hartley coming through at the end.
“Unfortunately, at one-point Sergey lost the DRS and they both came through. We managed however with that strategy to stay out in front of Alonso which is a very small bonus in what’s been an extremely difficult weekend.”
Smedley was quick to praise both drivers’ performance as they battle with the poor performance of the FW41 and admits that the team must do more to turn their season around.
“Lance was unfortunate with his puncture after enjoying a great start. Both drivers did a solid job for the team in attempting what they could to try and improve our finishing position. This is not what we want however, and we need to continue to work as a team to improve things.”